Instagram, like Facebook, seems to always find ways to make it harder for businesses to get their posts seen and for people to engage with them. That said, there is plenty that you can do to increase your followers and your engagement with the right Instagram strategy.
The 2 Most Important Rules to Boost Your Instagram Followers and Engagement
1. Always Use Strategic Hashtags
There are countless studies and tests that looked into the impact of using hashtags on Instagram. Plenty of Instagram experts have come forward with optimum numbers of hashtags per post – but few agree on an exact number.
The truth is, the number of hashtags you should use will differ based on your particular audience and niche. There’s no “right” number; the only thing we know with absolute certainty is that using hashtags is better than using no hashtags – all tests and studies support that fact.
One of the most recent tests/studies I’ve read on the subject comes from the Social Media Lab; their test found that using up to 5 hashtags in your posts can lead to an impressive effect on engagement – particularly likes, but also comments.
For the test, they used 4 different Instagram account and posted 140 updates. The results showed a staggering increase in likes of 70.41% and a 392% increase in comments – although, they do admit that they weren’t getting a lot of comments to start with, but they clearly got a massive increase on posts with hashtags.
Of course, not just any hashtag will get you the results you’re looking for; the more strategic you are with your hashtags, the better.
First off, the hashtags you use need to be clearly relevant to the update you’re posting. If you’re going to tag a post with #food (over 250 million updates are tagged with #food!) but your update has no food, you’re just going to put people off – not engage with you.
Not to mention, the idea is to get targeted followers and engagement. If you’re getting likes from people who have absolutely no interest in your blog, or your business, then what’s the point?
Additionally, it’s also better to go with lesser-used hashtags. Some have hundreds of millions of posts (like #food or #cute – close to 400 million!), which means that yours will likely get lost. Focus instead on hashtags that get hundreds of thousands of posts, rather than millions:
[RELATED: 10 Tips on Using Instagram for Business]
2. Create a Growth Strategy
While hashtags should be a big part of your growth strategy, you should also:
· Create a healthy mix of different posts: don’t just post the same thing every day. Create a good mix of photos with different subjects (from candid shots from around the office to images of your lunch and to photos promoting your products or services), videos, and of course, Instagram Stories. Use a social media calendar and plan out your content strategy clearly; this way, you can assure yourself that you’re constantly changing things up
· Always engage: if you want more people to follow you and engage with you, there’s no better way than through engaging with them, which is true about all social networks. Set aside a few minutes every day to engage: like photos, repost your favorite ones on your account, reply to your comments and leave comments on others’ posts, and so on.
· Follow relevant users: you don’t need to wait for people to come to you – why not follow them first to get the ball rolling? Start by finding some popular accounts that are similar to yours and share the same target audience, and start going through their followers to find interesting people to follow. Then, simply start engaging with them: like their posts, leave comments, and share.
· Use your analytics: don’t forget about your analytics. Your growth strategy should always be subject to change, based on your results. Find out which posts get you the most engagement, who engages with you the most, when your audience is online, and so on. Then, use this information to optimise your Instagram strategy – there’s no better study, no better tool, than your own analytics.
Instagram doesn’t have to be difficult; while there are always new changes that bring about unique sets of challenges, if you’re strategic in the way you post, use hashtags, and engage, you can get very far.
What are some of your biggest challenges with Instagram?
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